Dimmu Borgir – Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997)

I’m not the biggest black metal fan in the world, but to me, this album is an absolute classic of the genre, and one of the best (if not the best) from the symphonic side of the spectrum. Dimmu Borgir might not sound like this anymore, which is a shame, but that makes this extra special – for me it definitely stands out in the Dimmu back catalogue; not as twinkly as the other stuff from the same era, not as rough as the earlier stuff, and not as over-compressed and death metal-like as later stuff. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is the sound of a symphonic black metal band in their prime!

Opener “Mourning Palace” is still a live staple of the band today, and it’s not hard to see why, with it’s simple-yet-effective keyboard-led tune and enormously ferocious vocal attack. It’s a mid-paced start, but a brilliant start all the same. “Spellbound” is just as good, speeding up a bit and bringing in even more super sick vocals; Shagrath’s performance on this album is one of the best “metal” vocal performances I’ve ever heard. I won’t go into every track here, but just point out my favourites; “The Night Masquerade” has some serious fast shit going on, with some dank pitchshifting and sultry female vocals more akin to the blasting, erotic tales woven by Cradle Of Filth. “Tormentor Of Christian Souls” has it’s lyrics cut out of the book, which is a bit soft, but it is one of the best songs here nonetheless. Finally, the whole thing is rounded off with the untitled secret track (edit: the track is actually called “Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde” but the info isn’t on the album anywhere), which is a bit lengthy but still one of the better tracks.

If you’re into black metal there can’t really be any doubt that you’ve already heard this; it’s a stone-cold classic. They just don’t make them like this anymore. It was with great pleasure that a few years ago I got to witness “An Evening With Dimmu Borgir”, where the band – due to popular demand – played this entire record live, from start to finish. The modern Borgir line up obviously do not sound as amazing as the fresh young band on this recording, but it was an experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life.